Thursday, April 20, 2017

Again with the westerns

High Noon would have been pretty good if
Gary Cooper hadn't been wearing that stupid-looking tie.

Like I say, I never liked westerns. They're about ugly people wearing ugly clothes in ugly towns. I can't stand those ties men wear in them. The showgirls wear awful-looking outfits. The people are either illiterate or they may as well be. Their only recreation is hanging around in often garish saloons and their greatest ambition in life is to some day own a ranch.

But I find westerns weirdly fascinating. Why were they so popular outside the United States? What did Josef Stalin see in them? The Dalai Lama liked westerns and said his favorite actor was John Wayne. (Poor Richard Gere.)

In the '60's and '70's, the Soviets made their own "westerns" which I liked, set in Kazakhstan or Siberia in the 1920s. I used to like samurai movies. And there are a lot of foreign films set in various times and places that, if you wanted to make an American version, could best be done as westerns.

I think of Night of the Shooting Stars, Okraina, The Virgin Spring.

Last House on the Left was an Americanized version of The Virgin Spring which didn't work terribly well. The Virgin Spring itself was based on a medieval ballad that was probably closer to Oedipus Rex than anything else.

In the ballad, three sisters on their way to church are killed by three goatherd brothers they just met. They're killed because they refuse to marry them. The three murderers try to sell the girls' dresses to a farmer's wife. She recognizes the dresses as her daughters'. She screams for her husband who comes out with a sword. He kills two of the brothers outright then demands that the third one tell him who they are. He says that they were abandoned in the woods as children and had been fending for themselves ever since, and the father realizes they're his sons who he inexplicably left to die in the wilderness years earlier.

I don't know if medieval Swedes had access to ancient Greek drama, or if it was a coincidence. 

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